Your camera’s aperture and shutter speed determine your photograph’s exposure – the amount of light reaching the film or CCD sensor.

The aperture is a variable hole in front of the lens that is adjusted to let more or less light through and the shutter is a cover over the film or CCD that controls the length of time that the light reaches the film when it opens.

The shutter speeds of cameras can go from long exposures of 30 or more seconds to fast speeds of anything as short as 1/8000 sec. The speeds increase/decrease by a factor of two. Typical speeds (in seconds) are:

30, 15, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000

Higher end SLR cameras may extend the speed range to higher or lower speeds. Newer SLRs, such as the digital models, have broken the factor of two rule and introduced intermediate speeds such as:

1/5, 1/6, 1/10, 1/13, 1/20, 1/25, 1/40, 1/50, 1/80, 1/100, 1/160, 1/200, 1/320, 1/400

…and so on. However, these “micro-jumps” in shutter speed are compensated by the aperture also breaking the factor of two rule and having non-standard f-stop numbers like:

f/4, f/4.5, f/5, f/6.3, f/7.1, f/9, f/10, f/13, f/14, f/18, f/20

Provided your camera is not in manual mode, any change in either aperture or shutter speed will cause an automatic change in the other as the camera automatically compensates for changes you make.

By adjusting the shutter speed you can control the movement of the subject. A fast shutter speed will freeze the subject and a slow shutter speed will make it look blurred as the subject moves.

With landscape photography, most of the time you’ll be using small apertures – f/8, f/11 or smaller and, since these reduce the amount of light entering the camera, longer shutter times will be required.

If you’re trying to capture something fast moving, like the fast-whipping branches of a tree in a high wind, then you’ll need to use a faster shutter speed and that will mean using a larger aperture which, in turn, will reduce the depth of field of your photo.

On the other hand, you could make the blurring a feature of your photo by keeping the long shutter speed. This is a technique frequently used with water to achieve an ethereal, almost other-worldly effect with waterfalls, lakes or any body of moving water.

If you track the subject when using a slow shutter speed, the subject will not be blurred but the background will be as you sweep across it during the exposure. You can also use your flash with a slow speed to get movement and blur all in the same shot.

All cameras from the most basic point-and-shoot single use camera to the latest highly sophisticated digital SLRs have shutter speeds. The very basic compact models may have a fixed speed so there‚Äôs nothing you can do to change that (except change your camera!). More advanced 35mm compact cameras have adjustable shutter speeds, but the speed is controlled by the software in the camera and you have no way of overriding it. With SLRs (film and digital) you still have the automated control (provided by the various “program” modes on the camera) but also an override of some form to allow more creative use of the shutter speed.

Setting Shutter Speed Videos:

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